The 10 NY Giants With The Most To Prove: Part One

Bill Kostroun/NY Post

In 2022, everything that could go right for the Giants (except their choice of punt returners and bye week recreational activities) went right, but last season, everything that could go wrong did. So which version of the Giants was the real Giants? We’ll find out in 2024, as most guys on this team have much to prove. But who has to confirm the most? Let’s rank them!

10. Brian Burns: You wouldn’t think a two-time Pro Bowler with 9+ sacks in 3 of the last four seasons would be on this list, and as far as playing for a job, he shouldn’t be. The Giants acquired Burns for a 2nd round pick and got a $141 million deal from the team with $87.5 million guaranteed. He’s being treated like an absolute star, and if he has just eight sacks as he had with Carolina last year or less, many fans will be second-guessing the trade, and he’ll quickly become a prime target for Giants fans’ abuse

9. Darius Slayton: Slayton has been the model of consistency for this team since being drafted in the fifth round of the 2019 Draft. He’s had between 724-770 yards in 4 of his five seasons, including a career-high 770 last season. He’s also had between 46-50 catches in 4 of 5 seasons.

However, he’s struggled to reach the end zone as he’s followed up an electric 8 TD rookie campaign with just eight combined over the last three seasons and no more than 4 in any season since 2019.

He skipped OTAs and made it clear he wants to get paid more, so this is the year to show he’s more than just the low-end #2/high-end #3 WR his stats have shown him to be thus far. He’s also been known to miss big catches in big spots, so he has to show he can handle the heat if he wants to be viewed as a higher-end WR in the NFL. 

8. Boogie Basham: A name very few fans have talked about, the former second-round pick of the Buffalo Bills has had a very underwhelming NFL career so far. He has 0 starts to his name and only appeared in 8 games for the Giants last season.

Entering the final year of his rookie deal, he has to show that he can play in this league if he wants a career that lasts well beyond 2024. The Giants need a defensive lineman (or two) they can trust next to Dexter Lawrence, and Basham should be one of the names they look toward.

He’s a bit awkwardly sized for the scheme as his listed 274 lbs make him a bit oversized to play a traditional 3-4 OLB but a bit undersized for a 3-4 DL; hopefully, Shane Bowen can find a spot for him, and he can turn his career around. 

7. Daniel Bellinger: With Darren Waller gone, the sure-handed 4th-round pick should be the favorite to get the bulk of the starts and targets at TE. Catching 30 of 35 targets his rookie year, followed by 25 of 28 last year, shows he can make the catches when targeted, but his targets being so low on a team that lacked elite weapons is somewhat concerning.

He hasn’t shown much ability to separate, and having under 270 yards each of his first two seasons and only two career TDs would make many question how much more production there is to be unearthed there. Rookie Theo Johnson has gotten praise from Giants media types in their limited OTA action and could push Bellinger for snaps.

Plus, they have veterans Jack Stoll & Chris Manhertz on the roster, though both have primarily been used as blockers in their career and Lawrence Cager, who I think is a very underrated pass catcher, though there are no stats to back that up. We’ll see if he can lock down the #1 job this season and be the steal many talked about during the 2022 Draft. 

6. Azeez Ojulari: This one is less for the Giants and more for him individually. With Kayvon Thibodeaux and Brian Burns on the roster, it seems highly unlikely that the Giants would give Ojulari a big-time deal, regardless of his season, without a career-threatening injury to one of those 2.

But his deal is up in 2025, and he followed a fantastic eight-sack rookie season with just eight more in the last two combined. And what’s worse is it dropped the previous two from 5.5 in 2022 to 2.5 last season.

His biggest struggles have come from his health, as he only has 12 starts and 18 games played the previous two seasons combined after 13 starts and 17 games played in his rookie year. With Burns & Thibodeaux entrenched as the starters, healthy Ojulari should be able to play a more situational role, hopefully, thrive in his limited opportunities, and earn himself “the bag” from another team. 

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